Russian Debian-derivative Linux slinger plans IPO
There is always money to be made from war
Russian Linux distributor НПО РусБИТех – aka RPA RusBITech – is thriving and plans to IPO.
A few months ago, The Reg FOSS desk took a quick look at Russian distro ROSA Linux, which is derived from Mandriva. It's not the only distribution from the land of Putin. Another, Astra Linux, is one of Debian's recognized derivatives.
Astra Linux isn't new: it's been around for some years. As well as x86, Arm another CPU architectures, it supports MIPS, presumably for Russian Baikal CPUs and the rarely-seen Russian-designed-and-made Elbrus machines – that's the
e2k, or Эльбрус 2000, in the list of architectures.
Astra Linux is produced by "research production association" RusBITech, and the distro was specially designed for use in the Russian military. As we mentioned when reporting on the government of India seeking to reduce its dependence on Western tech, Russia has been actively been doing it, since at least 2018.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Microsoft has blocked the use of Windows in Russia, as have IBM and many others. This seems to be significantly helping drive adoption of replacement operating systems: Reuters reports that RosBITech Astra, the subsidiary dedicated to Astra Linux, is planning to float on the Moscow stock exchange. A Russian estimation of the company values it at around 17 billion roubles ($260 million, ish).
Reportedly, CEO Ilya Sivtsev owns 20 percent of the company.
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Russian media claims uptake of domestic software had already increased by three to six times by March this year, due to difficulties updating Western OSs and apps.
RosBITech's website claims an impressive list of partners, and although quite a few are Western companies who we suspect probably aren't helping any more, there are also several big Chinese names on the list which may well still be doing so.
RosBITech has had links with the LibreOffice stewarding organization The Document Foundation since 2015, and the Linux Foundation carries mirrors of its kernel.
Such large-scale deployments are bound to uncover new issues. It may be unrealistic of us to hope for it, but it's possible that improvements and refinements to Astra Linux get transferred back upstream to Debian, so something positive could come out of this unjustified invasion of Ukraine, which is happening less than 500 miles (700km) from where your vulture is typing. ®